by Aidan Mellon-Reyes
The film Lady Bird has many iconic characters, but Timothée Chalamet’s character, Kyle, will forever remain the epitome of the deep thinker whose favorite band will always be the one that “you wouldn’t know.” Kyle’s always either reading a book or telling someone about the last book he read. He prides himself on being the aloof intellectual who still hangs out with the cool kids.
Throughout the film, he is seen with a book in his hand, reinforcing the idea that he likes to learn and wants everyone around him to know it. Make no mistake, he is not reading just to boost his credibility around the school—that just happens to be a bonus. What he lacks in subtlety and empathy he makes up for in quippy one-liners that allow him to steal the few scenes he is in.
Everyone knows or went to school with someone like Kyle, so this post will help you see the world from their point of view. Let’s take a look at five books that are not only great reads, but would also get us one of Kyle’s classic “good girl” remarks!
1. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Have you ever wondered if there was a side of US history that was overlooked or skipped in school or just wanted to gain a broader perspective of how the country came to be? Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States tackles such perspectives by giving a voice to the voiceless. He conveys this information in a way that allows anyone to approach his critical view of pivotal events that lead to the country we all know today. This text’s growing implementation into the American school system has lead to what Zinn hoped for: a “quiet revolution” in the sense that students may willingly question long-held beliefs in their education and look for the hard truths.
Kyle can be seen reading Zinn’s book in Lady Bird so he would definitely approve if you picked this one up! Plus, while learning about the United States’s untold history might make you a little paranoid, Kyle shows us that a little skepticism never hurt anyone, which is part of his allure: chuckling at everyone’s naiveté to let them know that he’s in on the secrets of the world.
2. The Stranger by Albert Camus
Kyle’s serious and philosophical demeanor can all be summed up by his frequent stares into the distance, which makes us wonder: just what is going on in that head of his? If he’s reading Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, his thoughts are probably on death and the role that emotions, or the lack thereof, play in a person’s life. In this philosophical novel, a man who is generally apathetic to the goings on of the world, including the death of his mother, is suddenly involved in a murder.
Readers are forced to make up their own minds about what the “hero” or message of the story even is due to the limited narrative. This sort of engagement with the text is an opportunity to think deeply, just like how Kyle does, and even come up with your own profound thoughts that will make people go “woah.” You’ll be introspecting about existence long after you finish this story, and soon you too can stare off into the distance philosophically.
3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Within Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 lies a story of alternate realities that eventually brings two lovers back together as they both figure out what they value most in their new world. It takes inspiration from Orwell’s well known science-fiction novel of almost the same name (Nineteen Eighty-Four) and presents an Earth that feels just slightly off. The grandest difference is the appearance of a second moon that both the main characters notice and which no one else remarks on. Change brings people together in this story and encourages one to embrace the new and challenging.
The physical size and space a book takes up can create a statement and demand prolonged attention, which Murakami’s tome of a novel does well. Its page count comes in at around a thousand, so if you can read this, everyone will know that you’re a “serious” reader. Kyle would definitely give you a second look if he saw you reading this, and you might even get one of his trademark “that’s hella tight” comments. While size isn’t everything, Kyle should recognize the substance of 1Q84 and will likely be aware of the novel’s or of Murakami’s good standing.
4. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Devolution, anti-Western, and magnum opus: all fancy words to describe Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as he takes readers into the United States–Mexico borderlands along with a gang of bounty of hunters. Terror exudes from the novel’s villain, known only as the judge, as is one of the reasons movie adaptations have failed to get off the ground.
The novel critiques the state of English literature and, ultimately, humanity and requires more than one read to recognize the allusions made. While Kyle would use reading this book to elevate the mystique around him, even he might even struggle with it. There’s no shame in looking for others to talk about the novel with, whether peers or teachers. McCarthy’s novel is one that requires discussion, and there is no better way to grow one’s intellect than through asking questions and seeing new viewpoints.
5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer-prize winning debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, has enough accolades to send Kyle into a frenzy—and those awards are not just for show. Lahiri explores raw human emotion through the lens of immigrant- and first-generation Indian Americans that creates a personal and ultimately universal collection of stories. Her prose pulls at people’s heart strings with each turn of the page, daring its reader to hope for the outcome they want while still using some measure of caution.
Interpreter of Maladies serves as an example of how the length of a story has no impact on its quality. There is a binding that strings all the stories together, and the stories have such a real quality to them, which distinguishes them from the other fiction on this list. Kyle’s intrigue would come from the stories’ acceptance of reality, and he would relish the opportunity to compare his favorite story to yours and talk about the themes it brings up.